The capital city of one of South Africa’s leading horticultural provinces is on course to having its taps turned off on April 22 unless the city implements water projects and residents limit their daily use to 87 liters (23 gallons) or less.
This is the warning from the City of Cape Town in an attempt to avoid “Day Zero”, an issue that has caused a rift within the ranks of the ruling Democratic Alliance (DA) party about appropriate response measures.
The public comment period is about to close on Jan. 15 for a proposed water charge that would levy private residences and businesses, in accordance with their estimated values rather than their water usage.
Agricultural publication Farmers Weekly reports it was initially thought the charges wouldn’t apply to farms, however it has been clarified that all properties – including farms – within the Cape Town municipal boundaries would be affected.
In a release, the City of Cape Town said the Water and Sanitation Department would today be expediting the roll-out of pressure management technology to various parts of the water supply network.
However, funding projects to abate the drought’s impacts are expected to strain public finances, with the department forecasting a deficit of R1.7 billion (US$137 million) for 2017-18.
“The drought charge is needed to make up the deficit in the City’s revenue which has come about due to residents’ water savings and paying significantly less for water and sanitation,” said Mayor Patricia de Lille.
“Without this vital income, the City will not be able to undertake the basic operations required to provide water and sanitation services to the people of Cape Town,” she said.
“There is a vast amount of infrastructure and systems making up the City’s water reticulation network which is operated daily by staff. This network also requires constant maintenance to ensure that water and sanitation services are supplied to consumers.
“The proposed drought charge will be tabled at Council for its consideration at the end of January as part of the adjustments budget. It must also be noted that the proposed drought charge is also subject to approval by the Minister of Finance.”